Liverpool: Kenny Dalglish and Steven Gerrard Are Wrong, the Cups Don't Matter

Christopher Hall@@chriscospinsAnalyst IMay 2, 2012

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28:  Liverpool Manager Kenny Dalglish gives orders to Steven Gerrard during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on January 28, 2012 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is playing up the importance of Liverpool's success in the domestic Cup competitions.

Steven Gerrard has gone further, saying the club are on track for a successful season because of their victory in the Carling Cup and their pending match-up with Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

It's understandable that coach and player would tout the Cups, especially considering those are the only competitions Liverpool have been remotely competitive in this term.

But they're both wrong.

Domestic cup competitions don't matter for the big clubs any more. Not for owners, not for fans, not for players. And the only big club managers who tout them are the ones who are using a good Cup run as a reason they shouldn't be fired.

Players Don't Care

Players don't aspire to play for teams that win domestic cup competitions. FA Cup, Copa del Rey, Copa Italia, it doesn't matter. Not one of them will land you the signature of a top-level player.

No one dreams of turning out for Sevilla because the Spanish team won the Copa del Rey in 2010. They want to play for Barcelona or Real Madrid where they can contest the La Liga title and the Champions League.

Stoke won't get a discount in the race to land Eden Hazard because they made the FA Cup final last season. As a matter of fact, Hazard probably doesn't even know where Stoke play their home games.

And if a player has the choice between Liverpool or any of the teams currently atop the Premier League standings, he's not likely to turn out more than once a season at Anfield.

Here's What Matters

The mandate for big clubs in football's modern age is this: Win your league, Win the Champions League.

That's it. Nothing else matters.

It's a financial thing. It's a marketing thing. It's a prestige thing. Let's be honest, it's the only thing.

The reason domestic Cups are losing their importance is football has gone global. The domestic market is no longer the dominant consumer of the game.

Fans in every corner of the globe are tuning in to catch the action from Europe's best leagues. These remote fans in far flung places represent the growth markets for the game and they don't know or care a lick for the rich history of the domestic Cups.

Yes, it means football is losing some of its romance. But just because it's unfortunate doesn't make it untrue. Clubs stick their heads in the sand at their own peril.

Liverpool's Standard for "Success"

Liverpool won the Carling Cup this season. They beat Cardiff to do it. And they had to go to penalties at that. Are you impressed?

The Reds are just five years removed from contesting the Champions League final, and Gerrard is calling this season a success because they won the Carling Cup.

It's a sign of just how far Liverpool have fallen.

Compare them to Barcelona. The Catalans will finish second in La Liga this season, advanced to the semifinal of the Champions League and have a date with Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final later this month.

Barca could beat Bilbao 5-0 for the Copa del Rey and the season will still be considered a massive disappointment by supporters, management and players alike.

Sure they will celebrate the victory and have a big parade, but no one will pretend it makes up for the campaign's other failures.

That's because Barcelona are a big club and big clubs know that domestic cups just don't matter.

What does that make Liverpool?

And That's Why Dalglish Needs to Go

Kenny Dalglish is a legend. He's romantic about the history of football in general and Liverpool in particular.

That's admirable.

But he's also holding the club back. Dalglish has presided over a catastrophic collapse during the second half of the Premier League season.

The club have won just four times in their last 17 league games. Only one of those wins came against a side in the Top 10 (Everton on March 13).

During the second half of the season, Liverpool have lost 10 times. By contrast, Andre Villas-Boas only lost seven times all season before he was sacked by Chelsea at the beginning of March.

Liverpool aren't even the best team in the immediate vicinity of Stanley Park this season. Their neighbors at Everton currently sit three points ahead of them in the table with two games remaining.

He had a good start. He seems like a great guy. But Kenny Dalglish is not the answer at Liverpool anymore.

The past is gone. The Reds need to look to the future.


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